In Sports News this Monday: High emotion at Nové Město na Moravě as Koukalová wins Biathlon World Cup event in front of home fans; big sponsorship deal for skier and snowboarder Ledecká; and two Czechs find the net in Italy’s Serie A.
The 2016 Biathlon World Cup meeting in Nové Město na Moravě will live long in the memory for many. Over four days, more than 123,000 cheering supporters crammed into the resort’s Vysočina Arena, where Sunday’s final event delivered the greatest moment: victory for Gabriela Koukalová in the women’s mass start race.
Koukalová has two silver medals from the 2014 Winter Olympics, World Championship gold from the mixed relay and is the defending World Cup champion. But the 27-year-old says nothing tops her famous victory on Sunday.
“It’s the most beautiful moment of my career. It’s got me wondering if anything could be greater, if I’m at all interested in going to the Olympics – I just can’t imagine greater emotion than this… I was feeling fantastic today. I don’t recall feeling that good since the Olympics. I’m in better shape physically than I was last year. I hope I can make my shooting performances more stable in future – so that we can experience such results with our fans more often.”
Biathlon has become extremely popular in this country in the last five years and Czech Television reported on Saturday that the women’s pursuit final had been watched by a million viewers, a new milestone for the sport.
Coach Ondřej Rybář is the man credited with making the Czech Republic an international powerhouse in biathlon. He too ranks Koukalová’s win in front of home fans in Nové Město na Moravě very highly indeed.
“I don’t know if Hans Christian Andersen could write a better fairy-tale. For us it was literally a golden finish. It was just the culmination of everything that has happened here in the last four days. The emotions here have probably been more intense than we’ve experienced elsewhere. There are moments that stay with you. Medals can get dusty – but nobody can take those moments away.”
Koukalová’s first-place finish on Sunday was her 14th in the biathlon World Cup in her career. However, she remains third in the overall rankings this season, 105 points behind Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier.
Czech snowboarder and alpine skier Ester Ledecká has just announced a lucrative sponsorship deal with Coca Cola. In the past the 21-year-old – extremely rare in being a top athlete in two different disciplines – has used sponsorship money from snowboarding to fund her skiing career.
Two Czech soccer internationals found the net in Italy’s Serie A on Sunday. Midfielder Ladislav Krejčí converted a penalty in Bologna’s 3:0 win over Pescara for his first strike in the competition. And striker Patrik Schick scored for Sampdoria in their 2:1 defeat to Chievo.